When the suzuki T500 Cobra was launched in 1968, it was a sensation; no manufacturer had built such a large and powerful two-stroke model before.
suzuki’s expertise in two-stroke engineering, thanks to the defecting East German rider/engineer Ernst Degner, was utilised to the full, and this 47hp twin not only outperformed most 650’s of the time but was also more reliable!
It needed less maintenance, than almost any other motorcycle with massive roller main bearings with a direct injection oiling system into the crankcase but it did have its quirks such as bicycle style manual air pump on the diagonal frame tube - presumably to inflate a flat at the roadside (good luck with that!). The performance was also four-stroke like, with plenty of pulling power from low in the rev-range, and no oiling up of the spark plugs. In fact, the only two-stroke habit the Cobra had was its prodigious thirst for fuel!
The model had a styling update and became the T500 Titan, with ‘seventies style” colour schemes and carried on being produced, with modifications like an extra cooling fin on the barrel, now 11 instead of 10, and revised porting. The carburettors also dropped a size from 34mm to 32mm without any notable loss of power, but now able to deliver a more respectable 50mpg instead of just 35mpg.
The original Cobra and Titan are today great classic suzuki’s and have a loyal following. These models gave birth to the TR500 Road-race machine ridden on occasion by Barry Sheene and was successfully production raced at the Isle Of Man TT races twice and beat the heavier and less agile Honda CB450 both times!
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issued: Tuesday, May 25, 2021
updated: Tuesday, May 25, 2021
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